Historic Verdict on Padmanabhaswamy Temple by Supreme Court

Anantapadmanabaswamy temple is one of the Divya Desam (Holy abode) among 108 Divya Desams of Lord Shriman Narayana. The temple is located in Thiruvananthapuram the state capital of Kerala. The temple is a mix of Dravidian and Chera type splendid architecture with principle deity Lord Narayana in Ananta Sayana position, a form of yogic sleep. The prominence of the temple has been mentioned in various Puranas, Sangam literature, and is glorified extensively in Divya Prabandhams composed by Alwars who are highly devoted to Lord Narayana. It is believed Parashurama consecrated the idol of the Swamy.

The temple administration was taken care of by the Royal family of Travancore who ruled the place of Thiruvananthapuram which was later merged to Indian union by 1959. The rulers of the kingdom are known to be “Padmanabhadasa” meaning servant to the lord and ruled the kingdom as servant representative of the Swamy. The temple had a huge collection of precious gems and treasures in vaults controlled by a Trust headed by the royal family of Travancore. 

In 2011 Kerala High Court ruled that State Government should take over the control of the temple from the trust run by the Royal family by forming a trust or body which could take care of the assets as per the customs and traditions of the temple. But the royal family appealed in supreme court over this ruling. An independent report was submitted that no evidence was found that the trust and the family were sequestrating the possession of the temple. The court also ordered to inventory the treasures in the six vaults of the temple which when opened found to be worthy of more than A lakh crore in the present form. It’s also to note at various instances in post-medieval times that looting and plundering of the temple by invading army being planned but couldn’t succeed as local legend says that serpents are protecting vaults of the temple. 

Supreme court in his historic judgment (Today – July 2020) overturned high court judgment that administration of Temple should be taken care of by State Government. The Supreme court stated that the administration of the temple will be by the trust controlled by the Royal family of Travancore. Supreme Court judgment has brought much delight to the royal family members and also countless devotees of the Swamy who celebrated it by distributing sweets. It also should be noted about discrepancies in traditions and practices reported by the common public as changes were violating the customs of the temple when the administration was taken care of by the executive committee appointed by the court. The state government has decided not to re-appeal and will consider after going through the judgment copy. 
Supreme court judgment is seen as a welcoming one as age-old tradition has been protected by the apex court which re instills faith among the common public that their faith, customs, and traditions will be preserved and can be practiced at free will as depicted by fundamental rights in the constitution.

About the Author:

Vasanth is a passionate Electrical Engineer both by education and profession. His deep interest includes industrial automation and process excellence with the demonstrated professional expertise of leading several projects improving the operating model of large industrial processes with high efficiency and effectiveness. Beyond profession, he is a spiritually inclined person who is always in the quest of ‘knowledge of non-dual self. You can reach him out @VasanthRaghavan

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